In 2008 the Writers Guild of America struck to get better pay. Almost 10 years later the strike is mainly forgotten but it produced one unique gem.
Joss Whedon is perhaps best known for The Avengers or Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the project he was working on was halted by the strike. He decided to get together with his brothers Jed and Zack Whedon and use the time to make something small and that could circumvent the issues being created by the strike. They sat down an wrote a musical designed for direct release online then called up actors they’d worked with before – who were also on hold because of the strike – who agreed to appear and work on an act now get paid later if this ever makes money basis. Whedon paid for the sets, editing and everything else and a unique show was born.
The plot is complicated but boils down to watching Dr Horrible’s (Neil Patrick Harris) attempts to simultaneously take over the world whilst being foiled by Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion) whilst also trying to woo the idealistic Penny (Felicia Day). If it’s not already clear this is a comedy as well as a musical.
The series was filmed, edited and then released in three parts – and the internet went crazy.
Retailer: iTunes and Amazon +
Price: ± € £20 on Amazon or £7.47 on iTunes
Delivery costs: Free Delivery
About Joss Whedon
Whedon is one of the most prolific and respected writers and producers of the late 1990s and the 2000s. His credits start writing on Roseanne, Speed, Waterworld, Twister and X-Men, The Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie, Alien: Resurrection and Toy Story but he became a household name when he wrote and directed Buffy the Vampire Slayer for TV. He followed that with Angel, Firefly, Serenity, Dr Horrible, Dollhouse, The Cabin in the Woods, The Avengers, Much Ado About Nothing and is currently working on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. If you’ve made it through this list chances are you’ve found a film or show you enjoyed.
A lot of the series is shot with Dr Horrible monologuing to the camera – as a video blog (vlog). The rest was filmed on 5 soundstages Whedon borrowed and Whedon’s apartment. There are few special effects and the focus is on characters and the songs rather than glitz.
- Genre: Sci-fi, comedy and musical
- Target age range: Children, Teens, Adults, Older adults. There are several subtexts and hidden jokes that children will not understand but they’ll be very content with the surface story.
If you have an Apple device Dr Horrible is a bargain at £2.59 but if not the only option is Blu-ray and while £20 is the going rate for an imported blu-ray it’s not inexpensive. If you’re a huge Whedon fan it will slot well into your collection but I’d not recommend the blu-ray for a one-off watch as a cost-effective choice.
Runtime 42 min
Aspect Ratio 1.78 : 1
Release Date: 15 July 2008
Awards: Outstanding Special Class – Short-Format Live-Action Entertainment Programs Emmy 2009, Hugo Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form Hugo 2009, Multiple Streamy Awards 2009
Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog is something special and unique. It’s not the sort of show that would ordinarily get made and certainly not by a writer and director of Whedon’s class. If you’re a member of the Millennial Generation the chances are that you’ll find it both catch and funny and want to rewatch it immediately. Recommended.
The review is based on the first released three-part Dr Horrible Sing Along Blog. Read more about Ergohacks’ eco and access icons used in reviews. This article was first published on 12th August 2016.